The other day a friend asked me, “Would you ever be interested in running a marathon with me?” And before I could emphatically scream NO—in Spanish, French, and Italian for added fervor—she began to describe the 18-week training program she had in mind. But as she talked, I came to a shocking realization: I have somehow been tricked into marathon training for the last EIGHT YEARS.
And no, I don’t mean marathon training in the traditional sense of the word because the only running I do is when my toddler escapes from me at the store. Instead, I’m talking about the built-in endurance training I survive endure every night of my life at the time of day I so warmly refer to as “punishment for anything I ever did wrong in life,” otherwise known as BEDTIME.
You see, I don’t go to sleep at night to store up energy for the next day. No, I go to sleep each night to store up energy for the next NIGHT because bedtime at our house is legit. And if you come over and make it out alive, just like at a marathon, we also give out free t-shirts that say, “26.2.” Because that’s the number of times I have to beg my children to get back in their beds before I finally cave and let them sleep in mine.
And here are 6 other reasons putting kids to bed is the same as marathon training:
1. You have to feed yourself the right foods.
To prepare for bedtime, I cannot waste my time eating protein and veggies for dinner. Instead, I have to carb-load on pasta and bread to give my body the energy it’s going to need. After all, I once walked 101 floors just going up and down our staircase at bedtime as I was trying to use the Nanny’s ineffective brilliant method of carrying your child back to their bed as many times as it takes. Of course, I actually fell asleep on the stairs before my toddler did, but not before climbing as high as the Empire State building in floors. Take that marathon training.
2. You have to hydrate.
If you go into a run thirsty, you’re doomed. Your body has to be hydrated for it to function at its best. And bedtime is no different. I brew a pot of coffee starting at 6:45 pm. Then I chug it like its liquid gold until I see the clock strike 7:30 pm. Then it’s go time. There’s no other way my body can give its all unless I am properly hydrated (and caffeinated).
3. You have to put on the right gear.
Like with running, there is no way you can survive bedtime if you wear dressy clothing. So you must put on the appropriate gear. It needs to be breathable—to air out the sweat from wrestling children into their pajamas—and stretchy—my clothing of choice typically gives the 80-year-old grandma vibe. But dang, it’s comfy. Because how else can a mom contort her body next to another little body then slowly slither away without them noticing unless she’s dressed, right?
4. You have to listen to the right music.
Everyone knows that to stay sane on an extra-long run, you have to have some good and empowering tunes blaring in your earbuds. Because the right song can take you from tired to empowered, and I can’t help but laugh because that is the EXACT thing I do every night. My song of choice is Rocky’s theme song. I listen to it repeatedly before I go “fight” through my kids’ excuses for why they were born without the gene for needing sleep.
5. You have to go in with the right mental state.
When you know it’s your day for a long run, you can’t just wing it, or you’ll end up stopping, right? So many runners join running groups or read motivating books to get mentally ready. This is the same for me with bedtime. If I go in weak, I’m a goner. So I’m now part of a “Surviving Bedtime” support group where we send each other encouraging texts about an hour before bedtime begins. They say things like, “You were made for this.” “Don’t give up.” And my favorite, “But first, coffee.”
6. You feel like crap during it, but like an absolutely rockstar once you’re done.
My favorite part about bedtime and marathon training is what happens when it’s over! Because there’s nothing better than finishing an 18-mile run with success. And there’s nothing better than successfully getting your children in bed by 11:02 pm. I mean, it makes me feel so empowered and she-woman-esque. I truly realize I am capable of ANYTHING—which is precisely why you won’t see me running a marathon anytime soon. I’ll save that for my friends who actually need the training.